Amitriptyline Alternatives for Cats

"I need drugs to deal with inappropriate kitten behavior."
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Amitriptyline, marketed under the brand name Elavil, can help cats suffering from lower urinary tract disease or exhibiting "inappropriate elimination" -- otherwise known as peeing outside the litter box. Cats with heart disease can't take this drug, but don't despair. There are alternatives to keep Sugar from spraying.

Inappropriate Elimination

For some cats, peeing all over the house results from a physical issue, such as a urinary tract infection. For others, it's a sign of anxiety, whether due to the presence of an aggressive cat in the home or other issues making him fearful. Take your cat to the vet for a complete physical examination to rule out urinary tract problems. If the inappropriate urinating doesn't have a biological cause, medication and behavioral modification might save the day.

Anti-anxiety Medications

Vets often prescribe anti-anxiety medications for house soiling, including amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant. If this drug isn't an option, your vet might prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI. Common SSRIs include fluoxetine, sold under the brand name Prozac, or paroxetine, marketed under the name Paxil. These medications work by increasing the level of serotonin, a mood-elevating hormone, in the body. Decreasing his anxiety levels and making him feel more confident can get him back in the litter box to do his business.

Other Medications

Your vet might prescribe other medications to stop your cat's spraying, although they might not be as effective as the SSRIs. These include diazepam, marketed under the name Valium, and buspirone, sold under the name Buspar. These are effective but a high percentage of cats resume spraying when taken off the medication, especially when they are taken off diazepam. Clomipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant, also has good results, but if your cat can't take amitriptyline, clomipramine is probably also not an option.

Pheromone Spray

You've seen your cat rubbing his face on the furniture and doorways. He's marking his territory, via pheromones, a chemical excreted from glands in the chin and mouth. According to Dr. Arnold Plotnick of Manhattan Cat Specialists, cats don't spray in areas they have already marked as their territory. Spraying a synthetic version of a feline pheromone in areas that your cat marks can stop or significantly reduce the behavior.

Behavioral Modifications

Drugs alone won't usually do the trick. If possible, provide one more litter box than there are cats in the house. Some cats don't like covered boxes, so see if removing the cover eases the problem. Try different types of litter, as well as moving the litter box location. If feline aggression is at the root of the issue, separate the bully and victim. Desensitize the two to each other's presence, such as offering treat rewards when they ignore each other. You might want to consult a feline behaviorist to address the particular issues facing your felines.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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